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We may contemplate them not as the effects, or qualities (if the allusion may be pardoned) but as the very substance of poetry, as its “ hidden soul untied," as it were, and brought forward to our sight.
It is not easy to adjust the precedency between these victorious efforts of the descriptive Muse. No passage in Il Penseroso is, perhaps, equally happy with the following in L'Allegro:
And ever against eating cares
But, were my judgment to decide, I should
soul; the arched walks of twilight groves; the mysterious dream by the murmuring waters; the sweet music of the friendly spirit of the wood; the 'pale and studious cloister; the religious light thrown through the storied windows; the pealing organ, and finally the peaceful hermitage-form together such a mass of poetic imagery as was never before crowded into an equal space: the impression made by it on the imagination is to be felt, and not explained.
Although these poems obtained some early notice, the number of their admirers
y “ Perhaps," says Mr. Warton on this line, “ To walk the studious cloisters pale,
The studious cloister's pale.”
If this unlucky" perhaps” were to be regarded, the beauty of the line would be injured, and its propriety annihilated. Pale, as an epithet to cloister, is most happily poetic, and holds a large and animated picture to the imagination. It shows to us the ghostly light of the place, and it shows to us also the sickly .cheek of timorous superstition, the wan and sombre countenance of studious and contemplative melancholy. The cloister's pale, or fence, is tautological and weak; and to walk a pale, which, if it mean any thing, must mean to walk upon a pale, is a feat of rather difficult accomplishment. To walk, when as: sociated with place, and not determined by any preposition, will be always found, I believe, to imply upon or on. I walk the cloisters, I walk the road i.e. I walk upon the road, or on the ground of the cloisters. I walk the pale, or I walk the inclosure, would be strange english, without the qualification of without or within, or round, or by, &c. &c.
was for a long time small. Even from the wits of our Augustan age, as the age of Addison and Pope has sometimes been called, their share of notice was inconsiderable : and it is only in what may be considered as the present generation, that they have acquired any large proportion of their just praise. Their reputation seems to be still increasing; and we may venture to predict that it will yet increase, till some of those great vicissitudes, to which all that is human is perpetually exposed, and which all must eventually experience, shall blot out our name and our language, and bury us in barbarism. But even amid the ruins of Britain, Milton will survive: Europe will preserve one portion of him; and his native strains will be cherished in the expanding bosom of the great queen of the Atlantic, when his
own London may present the spectacle of ish Thebes, and his Thames roll a silent and so
litary stream through heaps of blended desolation.
z I am reminded on this occasion of a beautiful passage in. the “ Essay on the dramatic character of Sir John Falstaff," written by the late Maurice Morgann, Esq. " Yet whatever may be the neglect of some, or the censure of others, there are those who firmly believe that this wild and uncultivated * Bara
Shakspeare, so called by Voltaire.
A few months before the composition of
barian has not obtained one half of his fame.". -When the hand of time shall have brushed off his present editors and commentators, and when the very name of Voltaire, and even the memory of the language, in which he has written, shall be no more, the Apalachian mountains, the banks of the Ohio, and the plains of Sciola shall resound with the accents of this barbarian. In his native tongue be shall roll the genuine passions of nature: nor shall the griefs of Lear be alleviated; or the charms and wit of Rosalind be abated by time," p. 64.
This Essay forms a more honourable monument to the memory of Shakspeare than any which has been reared to him by the united labours of his commentators. The portrait, of which I have exhibited only a part, is drawn with so just, so discriminating, and so vivid a pencil, as to be unequalled, unless it be by the celebrated delineation of the same great dramatist by the hand of Dryden.
With the name of Maurice Morgann, who has fondled my infancy in his arms; who was the friend of my youth, who expanded the liberality of my opening heart, and first taught me to think, and to judge, with this interesting name so many sadly-pleasing recollections are associated that I cannot dismiss it without reluctance. He was my friend: but he was the friend also of his species. The embrace of his mind was ample; that of his benevolence was unbounded. With great rectitude of understanding, he possessed a fancy that was always creative and playful. On every subject, for on every subject le thought acutely and deeply, his ideas were original and striking. Even when he was in error he continued to be specious and to please: and he never failed of your applause, though he might sometimes of your assent. When your judgment coyly held back, your imagination yielded to his seductive addresses ; and you
wished him to be right, when you were forced to pronounce that he was wrong. This is spoken only of those webs, which his fancy perpetually spun, and dipped in the rain-bow: his heart was always in the right. With a mind of too fine a texture for business; too, theoretical and abstract to be executive,
his Lycidas, our author's domestic happiness
he discharged with honour the office of under secretary of state when the present marquis of Lansdown was for the first time in power; and he was subsequently sent by ibat nobleman across the Atlantic as the intended legislator of Canada. His public and his private life were impelled by the same principles to the same object;-by the love of liberty and virtue to the happiness of man. If his solicitous and enlightened representations had experienced attention, the temporary and the abid. ing evils of the American contest would not have existed; and the mother and her offspring would still have been supported and supporting with their mutual embrace. From a long intercourse with the world he acquired no suspicion, no narrowness, no hardness, no moroseness. With the simplicity and candour, he retained to the last the cheerfulness and the sensibility of childhood. The tale of distress, which he never staid to investigate, passed immediately through his open ear into his responsive heart; and his fortune, small as his disinterestedness had suffered it to remain, was instantly communicated to relieve. His humanity comprehended the whole animated creation, and nothing could break the tenor of his temper, but the spectacle of oppression or of cruelty. His failings (and the most favoured of our poor species are not without failings) were few, and untinctured with malignity. High as he was placed by nature, he was not above the littleness of vanity; and kindlily as were the elements blended in him, his manner would sometimes betray that contempt of others, which the wisest are, perhaps, the least prone to entertain, and which the best are the most studious to conceal. Though he courted praise, and was not nice respecting the hand which tendered it, or the form in which it came, yet he has refused it in the most honourable shape, and when offered to him by the public. He has been importuned in vain to give a second edition of his Essay on Falstaff: and his repeated injunctions have impelled his executrix to an indiscriminate destruction of his papers, some of which, in the walks of politics, metaphysics, and criticism, would have planted a permanent laurel on his grave.